Retired Aug. 1, 1966. Died Dec. 6, 1991.
Curtis Raymond Low, the son of Samuel D. Low and E. Marie Parnham, was born in Roslindale, Mass., in 1912. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Needham Heights, Mass., where he attended elementary and high schools, and lived until entering military service. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1937, and completed pilot training at Randolph and Kelly fields in October 1938.
On Aug. 21, 1937, General Low married Barbara Noyes of South Portland, Maine. They have two sons, Curtis, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and David a college student.
During World War II, he served as operations and executive officer for the 12th Bombardment Group in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia from July 1942 to March 1943. While assigned to these positions he flew combat missions in B-25s and A-20s against Rommel's Panzer Divisions, forward German airfields, and supply bases. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in January 1943. From March 1943 to June 1943, the general was vice commander of the Tactical Bomber Force, 12th Air Force, a combined unit of the United States, Royal Air Force, and French light bombardment units in North Africa.
Upon his return to the United States, General Low was assigned first to the Plans Division, Headquarters Army Air Forces, and, later, to the Joint War Plans Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington, D.C. In 1945, the late General H.H. Arnold presented him with the Legion of Merit for his outstanding war planning work and his significant contribution to joint war planning.
Following duty in Washington, he was assigned to the staff and faculty of the Air Command and Staff School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., where he was first an instructor and later director of associate courses. Upon graduation from the Air War College in June 1950, he went directly to Korea, where he organized and commanded the 6002nd Tactical Support Wing. This organization later designated the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing, was known as the "Truck Busters" in the early Korean campaign.
During the period August 1950 and January 1951, General Low's fighter wing moved five times, to Wonsan and Pyong Yang in North Korea and to Suwon and Chinhae in South Korea. These moves were all completed without the loss of combat effectiveness and were completed well ahead of schedule. General Low was awarded the Order of Military Merit Choongmoo by the Republic of Korea President, Syngman Rhee, and his fighter wing was awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
In March 1951, he became deputy chief of staff personnel, Headquarters Fifth Air Force, in Korea, where he remained until February 1952, at which time he became the deputy chief of staff, personnel Japan Air Defense Force. In May of that same year, he assumed command of the 39th Air Division (Defense), Misawa, Japan, where he remained until his transfer to the United States in June 1953.
During his tour of duty in the Far East, General Low was awarded the oak leaf cluster to his Legion of Merit on three different occasions. The first was for the development of K-2 Air Base early in the Korean War while a fighter wing commander. The second was awarded for exceptionally meritorious service in the manning and replacement of U.S. Air Force units in Korea when manning was one of the most critical problems. The third cluster was awarded for displaying "exceptional leadership qualities and tactical operation abilities" in the air defense of northern Japan; and for completing a highly classified project designed to increase the total combat power of the Air Force Far East striking arm.
Upon returning to the United States in June 1953, General Low attended the National War College in Washington, D.C., and then became secretary of the Air Force Council in Headquarters U.S. Air Force and later, executive to the vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force.
In August 1957, General Low was appointed commander of the 28th Air Division (Defense), Western Air Defense Force. As a commander in the North American Air Defense Command, he was charged with the aerospace defense of Northern California, Nevada and southern Oregon. He was awarded his fourth oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit for his success in air defense operations and in coordinating the air defense forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force assigned to his defense area.